A new exploratory trail has been introduced at a local natural landmark to encourage children to engage with nature and see the benefits of outdoor play.

Situated within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark, the new woodland experience forms part of the circular waterfall route at High Force Waterfall.

Created by talented wood carvers, a series of intricately carved and thoughtfully designed woodland sculptures have been placed along the walking route for families to discover. From a moon-gazing hare and an observant owl to a beautiful fox and a giant caterpillar, the majestic woodland creatures have made their homes in the magical woods close by to the waterfall.

Children can also climb onto a giant’s chair, discover a living bug hotel – which has been created by Raby’s estate ranger, Andy Gibson – and spot a selection of bird boxes in the trees.

Families can pick up a complimentary activity sheet upon arrival which encourages children to engage their senses on this magical woodland adventure – listening to the sounds all around them and witnessing the delights of nature in this landmark location.

Claire Jones, head of leisure and tourism at Raby Estates, said: “High Force Waterfall is a spectacular natural landmark with a fascinating history and incredible setting, and we’re incredibly proud of the new experience we’ve incorporated.

“We hope the new trail provides families with an engaging and immersive way to experience this area, encouraging them to think about the important wildlife habitats it supports, and providing them with fun ways to interact with this stunning landscape.”

High Force Waterfall is open daily 10am till 4pm, online discounted tickets are available or you can simply arrive on the day.

A small entrance fee of £2.50 for adults (16+) and £1 for children (5-15) is required to access High Force Waterfall. Under 5s are free. For details, visit: www.raby.co.uk/events/high-force-waterfall/

Raby Estates has launched a new app to enhance the overall visitors experience at High Force Waterfall and the surrounding areas.

Users can discover local walking routes via an interactive map, create their own bespoke tour of the waterfall walk by filtering different points of interest including wildlife, geology and landscape plus history and art, and can also locate nearby facilities including food outlets, motorhome stopovers, picnic areas and toilets.

An itinerary function is also available via app, enabling visitors to plan their day, and ticket links for upcoming events and special offers can be accessed as well.

Claire Jones, head of leisure and tourism at Raby Estates, said:  “Whilst we’re highlighting nature in our new woodland trail, we also appreciate the integral role technology plays in our everyday lives – which is why it feels like a great time to introduce our new visitor app.

“Using this state-of-the-art functionality, we aim to bring to life this landmark and provide our guests with as much information as possible at their fingertips. We want this app to complement and enhance their overall experience, so they get as much out of their visit as possible.”

The Raby Estates app is available to download for free via the App Store.

Android Devices 

Iphone Devices

High Force Hotel & Waterfall is the perfect destination for an adventurous family day out this summer. From wildlife watching to outdoor trails and picnics in the garden, there is plenty to experience. If you’re looking for a budget friendly day out, here are our top things to do for families for £10 or less.

Pre-booked family tickets (2 adults and 3 children) for High Force can be booked online with a discount for £7, combined with 3 hours parking for £3. All other family admission tickets can be purchased on site for £2.50 per adult and £1 per child.

Book Family Admission

1. Play I Spy during a scenic drive through the Dales

As High Force is located in the heart of the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can enjoy a beautiful scenic drive through Upper Teesdale. Wind your way beside the flowing River Tees, passing bustling market towns such as Middleton in Teesdale, Barnard Castle and Wolsingham, depending on which direction you are coming from. There’s plenty of wildlife and picturesque scenery to look out for on route to us. Kick start your day of family fun with a game of i Spy or other car games.

(c) Daniel Casson

2. Visit High Force Waterfall

High Force Waterfall is an incredible sight at any time of year, but during the summer the woodland walk to the falls is filled with birdsong, luscious green trees and blue skies (on most days!) The circular walk to the falls takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Although the second part of the walk does include steps, the first part is suitable for pushchairs and families can simply return on the same path to make it accessible. Unless there are serious weather warnings, there is a gate to the bottom of the falls so you can sit on the rocks below and feel the force of the water as it dives over the rocks.

Children at High Force

(c) Jen and her Tribe of 7

3. Complete our Dinosaur Discovery Trail or Leaf Trail

This summer we are asking young explorers to join us on a dinosaur quest at High Force. Scour the woods, looking high and low for clues and see if you can spot our resident dinosaurs and adventure objects along the way. Those who complete the trail and collect all the missing letters to our puzzle receive a special certificate as a qualified Raby Dino Detective! For those on a return visit why not try our year-round leaf trail and see if you can identify different tree species along the route. Our handy trail sheet will guide you on what to look for. Trail sheets can be collected from the Kiosk, Hotel or admissions team.

Kids playing with dinosaur toys in front of the waterfall

4. Watch the garden birds on the bird feeder

For those who are very quiet and patient, if you wait a little while by our bird feeders near the beginning of the woodland route you might spot our garden birds. From blue tits to robins to great spotted woodpeckers, we have a myriad of birds visiting our woodlands at High Force. See if you can identify any from your own garden at home. There is also a bird feeder outside the hotel which attracts a range of local residents.


(c) Peter Gunton

5. Find the Whin Sill

High Force is famous for its collection of whin sill which can be seen along the waterfall route. Whin sill is a special type of hard, dark rock called dolerite which formed millions of years ago when molten rock rose up from within the earth and spread between layers of other types of rocks – limestone, sandstone and shale before cooling and solidifying underground into a flat sheet know as a ‘sill’. After all this time the rocks have now eroded to reveal the whin sill on the earth’s surface. A helpful board at the bottom of the falls can help you identify the different layers of limestone, sandstone and whin sill which can be seen around the waterfall.

6. Have a picnic

We have a designated picnic area by the carpark at the High Force Hotel which offers picturesque views of rolling hills and woodlands. There are also toilet facilities here so a good place for a pitstop on your way to or from the waterfall. For those that would like to purchase food and drinks, our High Force Kiosk is right next door offering a range of snacks including mouthwatering Brymor icecream. Or for a full Teesdale special, why not pop into the hotel for lunch. We do a quality Sunday roast! Throughout July and August we are also holding our Summer Late events with extended waterfall opening and a delicious menu on offer (including a separate children’s menu) from Wednesday to Friday 4pm – 6.30pm. Two adult courses are £19.95 per person and our set child’s menu is £7 per person.

Family Picnic

7. Take a selfie

High Force offers plenty of inspiration for the keen photographer. Don’t forget to bring along a camera so you can capture your family day out and make some memories. There are a number of key photo spots along the route with incredible views of the falls in the background. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife too – you never know what you might come across. We’d love to see your photos and videos. Please tag us on social media at @highforcehotelwaterfall on Instagram and Facebook, @highforcewater on Twitter or use the hashtag #highforcewaterfall

8. Get creative

Get organised and plan your visit, bringing along pencils and paper to sketch what you see. From close up objects such as trees, rocks and flowers, to wider landscapes, there is plenty to see and draw along the waterfall path. Try crayon rubbing by transferring the textures of different natural items such as leaves onto a piece of paper. Or why not make a map of where you’ve been, highlighting some of the important parts of the walk? Hand drawn pictures make the perfect family presents!

Green pencils

9. Explore our NEW magical waterfall woods

In August we are launching a brand new experience in our magical woodlands at High Force. Children can enjoy taking a photo in the Giant’s chair and keeping an eye out for woodland creatures who will be hiding amongst the trees. Will you spy the moon-gazing hare and our wise owl? Keep your eyes and ears peeled for trolls as you brave the river crossing. You never know what you might find! This new experience is included with all waterfall admission.

All of the above activities are included within your waterfall admission and car parking.

Normal adult day tickets are £2.50 and children are £1 and can be bought on site. Families (2 adults and 3 children) and couples can pre-book tickets on our website for a discount.

Car parking is £3 for 3 hours and £6 for 6 hours.

Book Family Admission


This week we caught up with new Head Gardener, Tim to find out about the works taking place this summer in the Walled Gardens at Raby Castle. Part of our ground-breaking Rising Developments, the Walled Gardens are currently undergoing a massive transformation. Read on to find out more and even pick up 5 horticultural tips for July!

Hello fellow gardeners and plantaholics,

My name is Tim Marshall. I am the new Head Gardener here at Raby Castle, Park and Gardens and here’s my July update.

As we start an exciting period of immense positive change with the redesign of the historic five-acre walled gardens as part of The Rising Development, I will be working closely with Lord and Lady Barnard, world class garden designer Luciano Guibbilei and Richmond based landscape architect Alistair Baldwin to bring this beautiful and complex garden, along with the surrounding landscape scheme to life!

Alongside this, we have our trusty onsite gardening team of three Craig, Ben and Daniel which will soon increase to four when our Assistant Head Gardener, Jeremy joins us in the middle of July. As the garden progress gathers pace, we will be growing the team (quite literally!) with further gardening roles and volunteer opportunities. Throughout the month of July, the team will be working in the main garden to clear debris and items to be reused at a later date as part of the restoration elements in the historic walled gardens. 

Here are my horticultural tips for the month of July:

  • During dry periods cut your lawn on a higher cut and allow the clippings to lie on the lawn surface to try and reduce water loss.
  • Make sure that you keep on top of the weeds in your borders by hand weeding or hoeing on a warm sunny day.
  • Remove side shoots from your tomatoes. Let them focus on producing a good crop of fruit rather than a lot of foliage.
  • Collect as much rainwater as possible and recycle grey water.
  • Deadhead bedding plants and repeat flowering perennials to prolong the display.

To find out more about Tim’s history and what attracted him to working at Raby please visit our blog.

If you’d like to be the first to hear about upcoming gardening roles please visit our Careers page.

For this month’s Feature Friday with Historic Houses, we caught up with Interpretation and Engagement Assistant, Lauren to uncover some facts you might not have known about Raby’s Ponds.

Raby’s High and Low ponds have found their way into many a photograph of the castle and surrounding parkland. The 4th Duchess of Cleveland enjoyed seeing the castle from the south ‘doubled in the blue water mirror below.’ They were constructed in the mid-18th century, and formed during a programme of landscaping scheduled by Gilbert the 2nd Baron Barnard. High Pond (also known as Great Pond) was constructed around 1743, and Low Pond around 1748.

But did you know?

Raby once had a Moat Pond

In 1748, the moat which once surrounded Raby Castle was enlarged to form a moat pond. This can be seen in the plan of Raby estimated to be from around 1740-1760. This shows both High Pond and an expanse of water which circles the castle. The moat was later filled in- it no longer appears in an 1812 George Dixon plan of Raby, and the 4th Duchess writing in 1870 says of the moat: ‘the greater part of which is now filled up.’ When this occurred, the remaining body of water became Low Pond.

Left - Plan of Raby approx c1740-1760. Right - George Dixon plan of Raby 1812

Left – Plan of Raby approx c1740-1760 | Right – George Dixon plan of Raby 1812

There used to be more ponds to the south-west

During landscaping works in the late 1700s, two ponds were created to the south of Raby’s Home Farm and Lady Wood was planted along the south boundary of the Park. A body of water can be seen below the farm in this 1818 Map of Raby. These ponds have since disappeared (they are no longer present on an 1860 OS map,) and have been replaced with marshy ground. In 1870 the 4th Duchess refers to the ponds:

‘To the south of the Home Farm there is some very pretty ground, falling into deep hollows where Langley Beck crosses it:  these were sheets of water in the last century, as Lord Darlington here made a succession of ponds, which subsequently got out of repair, and I am sorry to say have been filled up.’
– 4th Duchesses’ Handbook

Left – Map of Raby, 1818 | Right – OS Map, 1860

There used to be a boat house on the ponds

Historic plans from 1897 up until the 1950s show a Boat House located on the northern banks of the High Pond. This shows how the ponds were used for leisure over the years by the family and visitors to Raby.

OS Map, 1954

The ponds were very useful during wintertime

Arthur Galilee, who lived and worked on the Raby Estate throughout his life from 1923 onwards, spoke fondly of winter times by the ponds:

Never a year went by without at least two sessions of skating, hundreds used to congregate on the top pond, especially at weekends. John Robert Meynell, a farmworker from Home Farm was a marvellous skater and enthralled everyone doing the figure of eight.

Ice gathered from the ponds would also be stored in an Icehouse in Bath Wood. Men were hired to remove and transport the ice to the specially made Icehouse, which would keep ice frozen until around June. This helped with food preservation and the production of iced treats when they became popular in the 18th century.


 There were once major plans to re-design Raby and add lots of water features

In 1774, Thomas White proposed an ambitious scheme for the park involving canals, islands and lakes while Raby was being re-developed by Henry, the 2nd Earl of Darlington. Most of the plans remained unexecuted, except for the previously mentioned ponds near Raby Home Farm.

Thomas White proposed plan for Raby, 1774

Castle Photography – David Dodds

To find out more about Raby’s fascinating history, you might be interested in these other blogs:

The Great Kitchen

Coats of Arms

Discover Raby’s Chapel

For today’s Historic Houses’ Medieval Monday we caught up with Interpretation and Engagement Assistant, Lauren to gain an insight into one of Raby’s oldest and most popular features – the Great Kitchen. Still a fully functioning kitchen up until the 1950s, many of the medieval features seen today have been adapted and modernised throughout the years. Understand how the space would have originally been used for serving 14th century noble families, such as the Nevills, with the help of quotes from the 4th Duchesses’ Handbook.

‘A right ancient and singular relic of the genuine baronial time.’

‘The most curious part of the whole Castle, for it has been scarcely altered from what it was when the great banquets of the feudal ages were served from it.’

-4th Duchesses’ Handbook



Built in the 1360s, as part of the development of the castle likely to have been carried out by Master Mason John Lewyn, the Great Kitchen is a grand room which fills the Kitchen Tower. It was probably originally a separate structure from the rest of the Castle, to prevent the risk of fire spreading and avoid any kitchen smells reaching the house.

A passage is cut in the thickness of the walls encircling the kitchen, which served two purposes. Defensively, it allowed men-at-arms to keep watch through the original arrow slits, which were later widened into the current windows. It also provided access to the Barons’ Hall for serving food.

The high, arched ceiling and ventilation shaft in the centre of the roof allowed for smoke and heat to escape, while encouraging the circulation of cool air. A similar, more ornate ceiling in the Prior’s Kitchen at Durham Cathedral was also likely to be the work of John Lewyn.

 ‘An ox might easily be roasted whole at one of these vast furnaces, and I have no doubt many have been so roasted in the old days, when spits mighty enough for the purpose could be put into requisition.


Cooking was originally done on four open fires, with meat roasted on spits turned by small boys or dogs on tread wheels. Great kitchens in medieval households were principally staffed by men, due to the strength needed for larger-scale catering. The most junior servant in a medieval kitchen was the scullion. They washed cooking utensils and dishes, and cleaned and swept the service rooms and courtyards. In the later centuries, these jobs belonged to a scullery maid. Numbers of women servants began to grow from the fifteenth century, but whilst by the sixteenth century female servants were more common, this was not in positions of major responsibility.

During the Middle Ages, sides of meat were hung from the beams that run along the corners of the room, which protected them from vermin and helped with preservation, as they became lightly smoked hanging above the fires. Kitchen staff had access to many basic variations of cooking utensils available today, such as frying pans, pots and kettles. Other tools more specific to cooking over an open fire were the spits of various sizes and material to skewer different types of meat. There were also cranes with adjustable hooks, so cooks could move pots away from the open flame and prevent burning.

‘Having little or no communication with the neighbouring town, the lord and his vassals were forced to provide and keep in store for themselves the necessaries of life.’

Auxiliary Rooms

A medieval kitchen would be connected to several other service rooms needed for storing and producing food. This includes a larder for preserving food, a cellar for wine, and a variety of store-rooms. A buttery (originating from the same word as ‘bottle’) was a store for beer and wine, and a pantry (from the work ‘pain’ which is French for bread) was to keep bread and perishables. A butler would oversee the buttery, whose role in the medieval times was to see that cups were clean, people’s drinks were topped up and the table was laid.

Developments in technology throughout the centuries altered the roles of those working in kitchens, enhanced food preservation capabilities and increased cooking speed. In the 19th century, one of the fires was replaced by a cast iron range which used heat convection to turn the spit: a spinning fan in the chimney drove a ratchet, which turned a spindle, which kept the spit rotating. In the 20th century, a more modern stove-top range was installed, but the outline of the original medieval fireplace is still visible behind it.

‘It is, in fact, those old towers, those old courts, the great baronial hall, and the kitchen, that are the objects of real interest at Raby; remnants of its antiquity, the contemporaries of those who stamped them with the feeling of belonging to them and to their fortunes.’


This week, as part of Historic Houses’ Medieval Mondays theme, our new Interpretation and Engagement Assistant, Lauren Foster has been exploring the medieval coats of arms that can be found around Raby Castle.


Coats of Arms 

The use of coats of arms dates back to the 11th century. Initially limited to warrior chieftains, by the 12th century, they became more commonly used by feudal lords and knights. Over time, they have become synonymous with a family name and passed down through generations. 



Heraldry is a method of communicating identity from a coat of arms and was initially used to enable knights to identify each other on the battlefield. Different colours, divisions and patterns indicated different traits. For example, heraldic crosses or dissections of a shield could represent protection and defence, and certain colours represented bravery or wisdom. As heraldry evolved, it became more important to represent family lineage, so arms are quartered, this showed two families who have joined in marriage. 

At Raby Castle once you start looking, coats of arms can be found everywhere; from archives, wall paintings, and day-to-day items in the collection to stained glass windows, the architecture and carriages.  


Examples of Raby Coats of Arms: The Nevill Gateway  

Above is the usual open machicolation, and just beneath it are three shields – 1st, Nevill; 2nd, St. George; 3rd, Latimer – each encircled by the Order of the Garter, which Lord Nevill received in 1369.  These shields of arms carved in stone were a common North country practice…’
4th Duchess of Cleveland, 1870  

A surviving example of Raby Castle’s medieval coats of arms, belonging to the Nevill family, can be seen on the Nevill Gateway, created during work to improve fortifications in the fourteenth century.  

(c) Katie Glover

On the left is the Nevill Coat of Arms, described in heraldry as ‘Gules, a saltire Argent.’ This in layman’s terms stands for ‘Red, with a white diagonal cross.’ Red traditionally was the colour of a warrior or patriot, and silver or white (argent) represents peace or wisdom. 

When Geoffrey ‘de Neville’ inherited the estates of his mother’s family as well as his fathers, he adopted his mother’s surname ‘Nevill.’ He inherited significant land from his mother’s family, and use of her Norman name was socially and politically advantageous in Norman-ruled England. In return, he kept his father FitzMaldred’s Coat of Arms. 

The centre Coat of Arms is St. George. The familiar red cross on a white background became associated with St. George from the Late Middle Ages, who was depicted as a military saint and had ties to the Crusades. The Order of the Garter’s Arms is a cross of St George, surrounded by the Garter. 

The Coat of Arms on the right belongs to the Latimer family, described in heraldry as ‘Gules, a cross patonce or.’ Gules is again the red background. A cross patonce is the type of cross with embellishments on the end, and ‘or’ means gold. This is said to signify wisdom, generosity and faith. 

This Coat of Arm’s represents Lord John Nevill’s second wife Elizabeth Latimer, the daughter and heiress of William Latimer, the 4th Baron Latimer.  

Each Coat of Arms is surrounded by a garter, the emblem of The Order of the Garter. John Neville, the 3rd Baron Neville, was made a Knight of the Garter in 1369. This was one of the most senior orders of chivalry and was awarded in recognition of a national contribution. For the 3rd Baron, this was awarded for his political and military efforts in France and Scotland on behalf of the Crown. The Garter is inscribed with the order’s motto ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (Shame on him who thinks evil of it.) 


Other Medieval Coats of Arms around Raby 

Within the Raby Chapel are stained glass armorial panels depicting the Arms of the Nevills. In the image below, on the right is again, the Nevill Coat of Arms. In the centre is the Arms of the Kingdom from 1340-1377. King Edward III quartered the royal arms of England with the ancient arms of France to signal his claim to the French throne. The English sections contain three golden lions on a red field. The French sections contain fleurs-de-lis on a blue field- blue being symbolic of piety and sincerity. 

On the left is a representation of the Nevill Bull holding the Nevill Arms. The bull’s head is the crest of the Nevill family and can be found dotted around the castle. This motif was originally carved into the Barbican Gateway, which was then moved to Raby Home Farm in the 18th century. A crest can be found at the top of a more detailed coat of arms. A bull symbolises bravery and generosity, and represents the Nevill’s Bulmer ancestry. Geoffrey de Neville in 1176 married Emma de Bulmer, who was heiress to the joint largest estate in County Durham at the time. This greatly attributed to the size and power of the Nevills’ Estate. 

The Nevill bull was a popular feature within Raby’s Visitor Books, in which guests to the castle were required to leave an artistic contribution related to their time spend at Raby. We particularly enjoy the depiction of the bull waltzing into the castle ‘to ruffle it, with ye Gallants of Raby’! 

(c) Raby Estates

To find out more about our fascinating collections and interiors within Raby Castle, visit our blog.

Raby Castle’s latest exciting attraction, The Plotters’ Forest, is the perfect place to reap the many benefits of playing in nature for children.

Claire Jones, Head of Leisure and Tourism at Raby Estates, said:

“In the modern world, ‘immersive play experiences within nature can be hard to find – we’ve all heard the depressing statistics about children spending less time outdoors. But the benefits of outdoor play are so well-documented that we committed to this approach early on. It just seemed to fit perfectly with everything we believe here at Raby.”

So what exactly are the major benefits of playing outdoors? Read on to find out.

Credit – Visit County Durham

Outdoor play encourages a range of physical, mental and wellbeing benefits

Not only is outdoor play beneficial for children’s activity levels and physical health, it can also improve their mental focus. Countless studies have pointed out the connection between children’s exercise levels and their concentration span: one possible reason for the growing interest in Forest School approaches, particularly in Early Years settings.

And there are plenty of other physical, mental and wellbeing benefits to outdoor play, including helping children get their daily dose of vitamin D – vital for healthy bones – to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle – essential for growing bodies and brains.

There’s also the fact that playing in the sunshine has been found to increase serotonin levels, boosting energy and encouraging positive moods, while simultaneously reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. One recent British study reported that children’s stress and anxiety could be reduced after just five minutes of playing outdoors!

Credit – @jayneyfaygs

Outdoor play engages the senses

Sensory play has long been recognised as the gold standard in the world of children’s development. It helps build nerve connections in the brain, encourages mastery of gross and fine motor skills, helps with language and cognitive development and can even support children in controlling their emotions.

Outdoor play tends to be a far more varied yet gentle sensory experience compared to indoor equivalents. In The Plotters’ Forest, children can smell and touch the pine trees, hear bird calls and buzzing insects and enjoy the rich and varied colours of the natural world. Getting close to tantrum territory? We recommend getting outside for some natural stimulation, and enjoying some sunlight on skin, a gentle breeze or collecting leaves to compare scents and textures.

Outdoor play encourages creativity and imagination

In The Plotters’ Forest, there’s plenty of fun equipment which youngsters can use to create mayhem and mischief: giant musical instruments, spinning signposts, Plotters’ Portraits, Talking Tubes and more. However, there’s also lots of open space designed to foster more inventive, creative play – tunnels, towers, stargazing decks – where little ones can let their imaginations run wild.

Claire Jones explained the decision-making process:

“After lots of research and discussion, we decided that the best kind of outdoor play strikes a fine balance between structured and unstructured activity.”

“We wanted to give children the best of both worlds: a stimulating environment, with plenty of freedom for wilder play. We thought back to our own childhoods, and felt the days we’d spent making up our own games and rules were amongst the best play experiences we’d had! We wanted to make sure our young visitors could feel something of that freedom, too.”

And beyond simply having fun, creative play is also another great way to help build neurological connections, develop language and more vital skills.

Outdoor play helps children engage with nature

The Plotters’ Forest was designed with the natural environment at its heart. Built as sustainably as possible, visitors will discover natural materials sourced from Raby’s sustainably managed woodland.

And instead of the plastic and garish colours found in many playgrounds, Raby Rebels will find natural shades of green and red inspired by nature’s palette.

Claire Jones added:

“We decided to weave  the play equipment through the existing trees and around natural clearings because we wanted to respect the forest and the wildlife it sustains.”

“We hope that The Plotters’ Forest will provoke thoughts and questions about the woodland environment and the life it supports, and foster the kind of curiosity about the world we love to see in young people.”

Credit – @the_griffiths_kids_

The Plotters’ Forest will also be available for exclusive hire, giving teachers, parents and other youth groups the opportunity to deepen youngsters’ connection with the great outdoors. Private visits can be tailored to particular interests or a curriculum focus – for example, minibeasts or the seasons – in an inspiring and engaging manner.

Claire added:

“Of course, play is our primary focus – we want children of all ages to enjoy our plotters’ paradise. But we also recognise that there’s also a valuable opportunity to use play as a gateway to a more profound appreciation and understanding of the world, our wildlife and woodland ecosystems.”

Tickets for The Plotters Forest are now available. To find out more and to book tickets please visit here. For private hire enquiries, contact admin@raby.co.uk

We need your help!

Every day we discover new fascinating stories about the family at Raby, as we establish our archives and collections. We want to invite visitors to share their stories and memories with us, to help us uncover more about the hard-working individuals who kept the castle and estate running. From those who kept Raby clean and the guests fed, to those who kept the gardens maintained and cared for the horses in the stables. We want to build an insight into how local, working people interacted with the castle and its family throughout its history.

If you’ve got a story to share, please get in touch and email admin@raby.co.uk


What are we looking for?

We are looking for anyone who might have stories about people who have worked at Raby Castle over time. Is there a relative, or someone you know, who worked at the castle? Were they a gardener, a tenant, a housekeeper or a scullery maid perhaps?

We are interested if you have been told about what they experienced day-to-day, or if you have any interesting stories about their time at the castle. Better still, if you have any pictures or mementos from their time here, such as diaries, letters, or other primary source material, this will help us to learn about their experiences first-hand.

Staff in Coal Yard

How will my story be used?

We are hoping to increase our understanding and create an ever-growing catalogue of people who worked here throughout the years. We also aim to use some of these stories for an upcoming exhibit as part of The Rising developments, which will offer more detail about the workers at Raby Castle.


Why are you doing this project?

We want to tell the story of all the different kinds of people associated with Raby, helping us to offer new interpretations of the castle’s history. We have some basic archival sources available, such as wage slips from the late 18 and early 1900s. These tell us names and roles, but nothing about the people or their lives.

Jack Armstrong, Head Gardener 1950s onwards (award for growing sweet peas at Raby Castle)

How can I help?

If you have any information you think might be of interest, please contact admin@raby.co.uk with brief details about you and your person of interest. You don’t need to have full story, any information about your person and their role will help us add to our existing knowledge, and help to remember everyone’s contribution to Raby.

We aim to respond to everyone throughout the summer and keep you informed as to how and when we will use your stories.

We understand that by providing any information, you are consenting for us to use it in future interpretation and projects, including The Rising. Please let us know if that is not the case.


We’re looking forward to hearing more stories such as Lucy Beattie’s, who was the Gatekeeper in the 1900s and a much-loved member of the Raby family.

Read Lucy’s Story

Raby Cricket Club 1951- Arthur Galilee and his father Jack Galilee (pictured). Both worked at Raby where Jack was a Groom.


As our ground-breaking Rising developments gather pace, we have welcomed a host of new team members to Raby including new Head Gardener Tim Marshall. Tim will be working alongside World-class Italian garden designer, Luciano Giubbilei and Landscape Architect, Alistair Baldwin to bring our Walled Garden vision to life. We caught up with Tim to find out about his background and how he plans to approach this exciting project.


Where did you career take you before joining Raby?

I have been working in horticulture for the last 27 years, 23 of those years as a head gardener. I started my career at Scampston Hall in North Yorkshire where I worked with the international garden designer, Piet Oudolf transforming the walled garden. After Scampston I moved to North Norfolk where I worked on the Holkham Estate, initially as the head gardener but was later promoted to the position of landscape manager which also included the management of the forestry. I left Holkham to work with Tom Stuart-Smith on a project in the Thames Valley, just outside Henley on Thames. On completion of this project I was asked to work in Jordan with Arne Maynard to help regenerate the private gardens of the King and Queen. After a number of years I returned back to the UK to work for the Bamford family on the Daylesford Estate as the garden manager. Following this I was asked to lead a large horticultural project on the Island of Nevis in the Caribbean, designed by Arne Maynard. After a number of years in the Caribbean I decided with my family that we wanted to head back to the UK for a stable life and to enrol my daughter in the educational system.  Though before this was possible, I was requested once again to return to Jordan to help with a very large landscape installation in the South of the country. After a year working on this project, I took up the opportunity to move back to the UK and start an exciting position on the Raby Estate.

(c) Peter Gunton

Which of your skills do you feel will be most valuable in the Gardens renovation?

I am a self-confessed plantaholic, which I feel will come in handy with this project. My eye for detail is excellent, which will certainly be necessary, along with my strong management skills after many years of organising challenging workloads.


Tell us more about The Rising development and the changes throughout the gardens?

The Rising development within the gardens will involve a complete redesign of the garden areas but retaining the key historic features and some of the larger original plants for continuity. The development will bring the gardens to the pinnacle of modern design. The main walled garden areas will be designed by Luciano Giubbilei and the outer landscaped areas by Alistair Baldwin, both of which are top-level garden designers.

CGI of the Duchess' Walk within The Rising development

CGI of the Duchess’ Walk

What will your role include?

The main purpose of my role will be to interact with the construction team and designers on the new project, to ensure the design is implemented and completed as Lord and Lady Barnard envisage. Also making sure that any remaining garden areas are kept to a high specification for visitors to enjoy throughout the construction period.


Who will you be working with?

My role will transect across the whole of the estate, working with all departments at any given time. With the Rising project I will be working closely with Lord and Lady Barnard, the designers, contractors, the construction team and the in-house gardens team.


What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Getting stuck into the new developments and seeing the site transform into a major inspirational tourist attraction for County Durham and the North East.


Why Raby?

Raby is the best of both worlds. It is an amazing remnant of the past history of the North of England providing a time capsule of how life was, but also how diversification in the present age can be highly successful and inspiring.

Walled Gardens at Raby Castle

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